7 Blockbusters That Had Extremely Long Runs in Theaters

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7 Blockbusters That Had Extremely Long Runs in Theaters

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Pictures

Before we had high-definition televisions and home surround sound systems, the only way to experience blockbuster movies was movie theaters. With video-on-demand and home media release dates often decided before movies even premiere in theaters, it's rare for even today's biggest blockbusters to run in theaters for more than four months. In earlier decades, huge hit movies ran for far longer than that because studios needed to make as much money in a movie’s initial run as possible.

Because of that, there are a number of movies that had extremely long runs in U.S. theaters when they were first released. While single theaters have set records -- the Maratha Mandir in Mumbai played the Bollywood classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge for nearly 20 years and Germany's Museum Lichtspiele has screened The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday and Saturday since June 1977 -- these are notable films that played for more than nine consecutive months in their original theatrical runs in hundreds of U.S. theaters.

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The Sixth Sense (283 days)

The Sixth Sense
Buena Vista Pictures

Opening Date: August 6, 1999
Closing Date: May 14, 2000

Though everyone in America seemed to know the secret twist at the end of The Sixth Sense within a few weeks, the movie kept drawing audiences to movie theaters for over nine months. While some of M. Night Shyamalan’s recent movies didn’t even last three months in theaters, The Sixth Sense was the type of career-establishing movie that made Shyamalan a household name.

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Titanic (287 days)

20th Century Fox

Opening Date: December 19, 1997
Closing Date: October 1, 1998

James Cameron’s 1997 romantic epic spent more than a decade holding the title of the highest-grossing film of all time, and it wouldn't have gotten there without a lengthy run in U.S. theaters. Titanic spent 26 weeks in the U.S. box office Top 10, something that hadn’t been done since Top Gun did it 11 years earlier. In fact, no film released in this past decade has even spent half that time in the Top 10. In 2012, a 3D re-release of Titanic ran for another nine weeks in theaters.

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Midnight in Paris (308 days)

Midnight in Paris
Sony Pictures Classics

Opening Date: May 20, 2011
Closing Date: March 22, 2012

Woody Allen’s most successful movie opened in only six theaters, but in just a month it reached its peak of 1038 theaters. While the biggest blockbuster these days open in four times as many theaters, Midnight in Paris kept making money for months, especially after Allen won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for the movie. Amazingly, Midnight in Paris was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20, 2011 – more than three months before it finally ended its theatrical run.

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Jurassic Park (322 days)

Jurassic Park
Universal Pictures

Opening Date: June 11, 1993
Closing Date: April 28, 1994

Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur epic may have been recently relaunched with the impressive box office grosses of Jurassic World, but the original Jurassic Park had an impressive theatrical run in its day. Incredibly, after Jurassic Park ended its initial run after ten months in April 1994 it returned to theaters less than four months later on August 26 and played for another eight weeks. A 3D version of the movie played for another seven weeks in theaters in 2013.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (360 days)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
IFC Films

Opening Date: April 19, 2002
Closing Date: April 13, 2003

Because it was an independent release, My Big Fat Greek Wedding opened in only 108 theaters, but that number grew as the movie's grosses kept increasing. It peaked at 2016 theaters in October, which was 26 weeks after it initially opened. It was still playing in theaters when the spinoff television series My Big Fat Greek Life debuted on February 24, 2003. The series bombed and ended its run on April 13, 2003 -- coincidentally, the same day that the original movie finally left theaters. Though the original movie has never been re-released to theaters on a wide basis, a sequel will finally be released in March 2016.

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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (364 days)

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Pictures

Opening Date: June 11, 1982
Closing Date: June 9, 1983

June 11 wasn’t just a lucky release date for Jurassic Park for Steven Spielberg. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial played in theaters just one day shy of a full year on its way to becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. In the years before home video, Spielberg’s masterpiece was one of the few movies to keep packing audiences into theaters week after week. E.T. was later re-released to theaters in 1985 (for five weeks) and 2002 (for eight weeks)

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Star Wars (532 days)

Star Wars

Opening Date: May 25, 1977
Closing Date: November 7, 1978

While many box office records set by the original release of Star Wars have been broken since its 1977 release, it’s unlikely that a movie will ever break the dominating run Star Wars had in theaters.

Though Star Wars technically ended its initial release on July 20, 1978 after nearly 14 months in theaters, the movie was "re-released" the very next day in over 1000 theaters. That "re-release" continued until September 7 everywhere except at the Westgate Cinema outside of Portland, Oregon, where the movie continued to run another nine weeks. Even if that nine-week extension is discounted, the sheer length of time Star Wars played in theaters is mind-blowing. Since then the original Star Wars has been re-released in U.S. theaters several times for multi-week runs, but even even without those additional runs Star Wars still breaks the record for staying in U.S. theaters on more consecutive days than any other movie.